Women’s History Month in the United States grew out of a weeklong celebration of women’s contributions to culture, history and society. As March 2017 comes to a close, we wanted to re-visit some of the hottest hip-hop & R&B tracks created by artists throughout the years. Who run the world…….
- Beyoncé – Flawless
From her days with Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé has always been an advocate for equality for women. On her fifth album, she created an anthem that celebrated beauty and confidence. Although the track starts off counterproductive, she cleans it up with a speech by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which highlights the hypocrisies of gender roles. Beyoncé also firmly solidifies herself as a feminist that seeks the political, social, and economy equality of the sexes.
- Destiny’s Child – Independent Woman
This upbeat tune promotes and celebrates women being independent. While Beyoncé sings about not needing a man for financial gain, Kelly brags about the material possessions she’s gotten with her own money. The song, which was created in promotion of Charlie’s Angels, stresses the idea that a woman can be happy, strong, and self-sufficient. This is one of many songs the trio created to promote of female empowerment.
- Queen Latifah – U.N.I.T.Y.
Not one to shy away from female empowerment, Queen Latifah highlights female unity and strength in this notable track. She discusses a multitude of issues like sexual harassment, abuse, and peer pressure. Even though Latifah loves black men, she is not willing to accept vile treatment from them. She wants women to stand up for themselves.
- Mary J. Blige – Just Fine
Mary J. encourages self-care as she sings about letting go and having a good time. She doesn’t seem to want negativity around her and there is an aura of happiness that surrounds her. This upbeat track was in heavy rotation on radio stations for a while and is the perfect tune to dance to. Though the song could be universal for anyone, Mary seems to be celebrating her womanhood.
- Whitney Houston – I’m Every Woman
Remaking Chaka Khan’s classic, Whitney sings about having no limits as a woman. Whether casting spells or reading minds, she encourages the power that lies within women. Even better than the song is the video that accompanies it, showcasing various women and girls. TLC, Chaka Khan, and her mother make appearances alongside a very pregnant Whitney.
- Alicia Keys – Superwoman
Alicia Keys highlights the hats that women put on to be the hero and role model in life. She acknowledges her flaws while also acknowledging her inner strength. She dedicates the song to mothers and women struggling every day, boosting solidarity by referring to them as her sisters. This uplifting anthem is one of Key’s best songs.
- Janelle Monae ft. Erykah Badu – Q.U.E.E.N.
This eccentric anthem promotes diversity as Janelle Monae sings about not being the average lady. While some are prim and proper, she would rather step out of the box. Even though she has her differences, she can still be a queen. Making the song even better is a feature from Erykah Badu, a woman that also represents diversity. While Monae brings the rhymes, Badu brings the boogie.
- TLC – Unpretty
This dynamic threesome flips the insecure narrative on its head to create a song that is self-reflective. It acknowledges how cruel people can be, particularly in regards to physical beauty. In turn, they internalize the criticism until they come to an “ah-ha” moment and realize that they should disregard the negativity. Though there are many things that people can change about themselves, self-love is the best anecdote.
- Jazmine Sullivan – Masterpiece
Jazmine sings a song of reclamation as she acknowledges her body as a work of art. Comparing her body to the highly sought after and notable painting, Mona Lisa, hints at the value to which she holds herself. She acknowledges that she was once insecure, but seeing the light she has realized her beauty. This song’s beat is very invigorating and inspiring, particularly with the steady production and clapping in the background.
- Aretha Franklin – Respect
Aretha Franklin asks for what any person would want, which is respect. Particularly as a woman, she feels shortchanged by her man. This song is an early example of empowerment for women, especially during a period like the 60s. The production and chorus make it a catchy song, but the message rings loud and clear. Women deserve respect.
- Destiny’s Child – Survivor
Destiny’s Child has many hits, but none more memorable than this one. The song talks about surviving any situation and standing stronger than ever. Although the song may be targeted towards an ex, this song seems fitting for any situation, like an ex friend or hater. However, this song highlights the strength behind women and their inability to not give up.
- Jill Scott – Rolling Hills
On this jazzy track, Jill Scott sings about self-worth. She tells a young woman that she doesn’t recognize the beauty and power she holds with her body and her mind. She takes on the position of a mentor by encouraging agency over one’s body. Having her own difficulties with self-love, she only seeks to enlighten women who may be in her same position.
- Keri Hilson – Pretty Girl Rock
Keri Hilson advocates confidence as she exudes it through what she wears, how she walks, and how she talks. The chorus states, “Don’t hate me cause I’m beautiful”, a reference to jealousy that some women can have. It seems that she is asking women to feel confidence and to like one another rather than hate each other.
- India Arie – Because I’m a Queen (Video)
This is another song that promotes self-love, particularly loving your natural self. Arie sings about not being a girl who will always shave her legs or paint her toes. However, she is comfortable in her own skin, regardless of what others feel a woman is supposed to be. The upbeat and country influenced production gives off happy and carefree vibes.
- Nina Simone – Feeling Good
Ms. Simone sings about a feeling of completeness and happiness. The song is slow and sexy and in a way, matches the confident mood that she appears to be in. She makes many comparisons to nature that give off how free she feels.
- Beyoncé – Run the World
Beyoncé makes the list again with another girl power anthem. In this song, she proclaims loud and clear that girls run the world. From birthing children to getting their degrees, women hold vast power and influence. Although men think they run the world, she lets it be known that women are the real world leaders. Besides the message, the song’s production is a great track to dance to.
- Erykah Badu – Bag Lady
On this groovy track, Erykah Badu encourages women to let go of their baggage to promote growth. She recognizes that one day the baggage will become too much, so much so, that it will scare off others. While she understands that it may be hard, letting go is a healthy process. This is definitely a track of reclamation and self-worth.
- Aretha Franklin – A Rose is Still a Rose
In this song, Aretha compares a woman to a flower, an object that is fragile and gentle. She depicts a number of situations in the song, moving from manipulation to low self-esteem. Despite these setbacks, she ensures women that they have the power to make it stop. As a rose, she should let her beauty and light shine through without a man in her life.
- Lauryn Hill – Doo Wop (That Thing)
Although this song gives advice to both sexes, Lauryn gives great advice to women around the world. She takes the first verse to advise women not to give it up too fast. Instead of changing oneself to fit the wants of a man, she reassures women that they are fine just the way they are. She also cautions them on who they allow in their life. Women are gems and should be treated as such.
- Salt n Pepa – None of Your Business
This song is all about women owning their sexuality. Salt n Pepa let it be known that who they sleep with is no one else’s business. They take a stance on a topic that is talked about today, particularly when it comes to women been criticized for being sexually free. In essence, they defeat those double standards that men can sleep around, but women cannot.